Wednesday, November 23, 2016
I asked my daughter, Lydia, if she would be a guest writer. She wants to share about Wednesday Worship, and I thought you would enjoy to hear about it from her perspective. So without further ado, here is Lydia!
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
I want to talk about being an American Christian…while simultaneously being a female and a leader. We have a problem in American Christianity, that while we have come to terms that God thinks slavery is bad, we still believe that God thinks women are not as good as men. We don’t think they should be outspoken and we definitely don’t think they should tell us what to do. In the secular world, this is called sexism. In the Christian world, this is called theology.
While there have been thousands of theologians and books written on how this is consistently opposed by the women God called into leadership throughout scripture* and in the early church, American Christians still like to throw it in female leaders faces. We are told consistently that we are not qualified because of our chromosomes. I would like to share my witness of what this has looked like in my ministry and what transformation would look like.
I was called by God into pastoral ministry when I was in junior high. I had heard from my mother, a CPA, and my school over and over that I could be anything I wanted to be. While this seemed like an awfully important job, if others could do it, I surely could. After all, since early elementary, I had been placed as the leader for every group and project possible. I wasn’t afraid of stages, and could already speak and sing in front of a crowd. It was a calling that made sense.
From that beginning, almost all the push back I have received about my career choice has been because of my gender. It started with my Baptist friends pointing out that God didn’t call women and I must have a pride issue to think God was calling me. It was followed by my pastor refusing to mentor me because I was too much of a liability. Then, I watched Christians I trusted at my church change churches because the new pastor’s wife served as pastor of another church. Did you hear that? It was even that they were hiring a female. It was that his wife couldn’t come to events.
When I insisted on a private Christian university so I could start preparing right away, my wise mother encouraged me to choose the university affiliated with a denomination that ordained women. Even within that college, my closest female friends were confident God could not have called me because I was a female. Perhaps as a Christian Education major, or a youth pastor, but God did not call women to be lead pastors. In my ministry courses, there were two females per thirty students. The men would not talk to the females because surely we were there to become a pastor’s wife, and they weren’t ready for that kind of commitment.
Upon leaving college, no one would hire me. The reason? Both my denomination and that of my school were “Old Boys Clubs.” After 9 months of searching, I agreed to start applying as a co-pastor with my husband. I was careful to put his name first, but when it was time to preach, I took the reins. Best foot forward.
At our first church, a leader in the church told my husband he need to do a better job of silencing me. In our second church, when other pastors in the area asked why I wasn’t in their denomination, I said, “I’m female. You wouldn’t hire me.” I have fought to follow my call in 3 denominations. As the first female pastor in a church, I have been told, “I didn’t think I would like a female pastor, but you’re alright.” Well, thank you. I try. I’ve been introduced, only to have parishioners add, “yeah, my pastor has boobs” and my husband be introduced and the parishioner explain, “no, my pastor is a woman. You thought the pastor was gay, didn’t you?”
I get it. I am female. I have spent many a time in prayer asking God if he may have made a mistake in either my call or my gender. He always says no to both. Not a mistake. I have to work harder and do better than a man and still constantly have my authority questioned.
The first time I got push back because of gender, my mother grumbled, “I thought I fought this fight for her already.” I tell my daughter, just like my mother taught me, that she can be and do anything with her life. My prayer is that that statement is truer for her than it has been for me.
For it to become true, the church has got to change. We have got to stop taking scripture out of context. We have got to be a less sexist church. God wants to transform us. Why are we so resistant? Here are some simple things as a Christian you can do to aid this transformation.
1. Stop believing and teaching your children that women are incapable of leadership.
2. Hire your pastor according their calling and gifts and graces rather than their gender.
3. Don’t assume all pastors must be male because yours is.
4. When you are introduced to someone’s female pastor, don’t call her the pastor’s wife.
5. Be supportive of Pastor’s husbands.
6. When you’re nervous about the new pastor because their different than your last one, let it be about all the ways they are different, not just their gender. Actually, stop worrying and trust God. How about that?
7. When a female pastor does something you don’t agree with, don’t connect it to her gender. All pastors do things you don’t agree with. Let it go.
8. Don’t treat any pastor differently because of their gender.
9. Point out blatant sexism for what it is and be a catalyst of change.
10. Don’t pull Bible verses out of their context. Research. Read the Bible as a whole. Pray.
*Women Leaders in the Bible
2. Achsah (or Acsah) – daughter of Caleb. When Caleb promised her to Othniel in marriage, she requested that he increased her dowry to include not only land, but springs of water as well.
3. Anna the Prophetess – aged Jewish prophetess who prophesied about Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem.
4. Athaliah – Queen of Judah during the reign of King Jehoram, and later became sole ruler of Judah for five years.
5. Claudia - greeted by Paul the Apostle.
6. Daughters of Philip the Evangelist. Four unmarried daughters who prophesied. Acts
8. Dorcas, also known as Tabitha. Disciple in Joppa. Known for doing good and helping poor. Made clothes for widows. Raise from death be Peter. Acts.
9. Elisabeth – Mother of John the Baptist and the wife of Zacharias. 1st person to recognize Mary’s pregnancy was holy. Luke
10. Esther (also known as Hadassah) – Queen of the Persian Empire. Saved God’s people from complete annihilation. Esther
11. Eunice- Mother of Paul’s apprentice Timothy. Taught her son, who would become an evangelist, the Jewish faith even though her husband was gentile. Acts, Timothy
12. Hammolekheth – possibly ruled over portion of Gilead.
14. Hogla (or Hoglah) – One of the five daughters of Zelophehad who fought and won the right to inherit their deceased father's property. Joshua
15. Huldah – Prophet. II Kings, II Chronicles
18. Joanna - One of the women who went to prepare Jesus' body for burial. Luke
19. Jochebed – Mother of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Refused to kill infant Moses again law of land. Exodus, Numbers
20. Julia -member of the imperial court and therefore among the saints to be found in Caesar’s household. Greeted by Paul. Romans
21. Junia (or Junias) - Called "outstanding among the apostles" by Paul. Went to prison for sharing the Gospel. Romans
23. Lydia of Thyatira – Brought her whole house the good news of Jesus Christ.
24. Martha – Disciple of Jesus. Luke, John
26. Mary the sister of Martha. Anointed Jesus before his death. Luke, John
27. Mary – First to share the news of the risen savior.
30. Noadiah - prophetess. Nehemiah
31. Persis - a "woman who has worked hard in the Lord" whom Paul the Apostle greeted. Romans
32. Phoebe – A deaconess of the church of Cenchrea. Romans
33. Priscilla – wife of Aquila, and missionary partner to Paul the Apostle. Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, II Timothy
34. Puah - one of two midwives who saved the Hebrew boys from annihilation. Exodus
37. Ruth – Ruth saved her mother-in-law from starving and her family line by marrying Boaz. Her son is the direct ancestor of King David and Jesus. Ruth, Matthew
38. Salome- a follower of Jesus present at his crucifixion as well as the empty tomb. Mark
40. Shiphrah – one of two midwives who saved the Hebrew boys. Exodus
41. Susanna - a woman who was nearly sentenced to death due to false adultery accusations before being saved by Daniel. Daniel
42. Susanna– Supported Jesus out of her own means. Luke
43. Tamar– revealed Judah’s sin and hypocrisy. Fought for her right to be part of Judah’s family.
44. Tabitha (Acts 9:36) – AKA 'Dorcas' from Joppa, Tabitha was “always doing good and helping the poor.”
45. Woman at the Well- Spoke about Jesus to her whole community and prepared the way for him to speak. John